Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis


Political Science

First Advisor

Heather Getha-Taylor


Over the last several decades, the notion of public service motivation (PSM) has been established through a wealth of scholarly work as a key commonality amongst those who choose to serve the public sector, with a broad consensus that public servants have a special calling (Boyne 2002; Houston 2000; Perry 1996; Perry and Wise 1990; Staat 1988). However, the shift to a system of "governance" -- the expansion of government functions into many third party providers--is changing the way the public sector "looks" and how services are provided. Because of the tremendous involvement of the private and non-profit sector (even with respect to those inherently governmental functions), the motivations of contracted and third party employees, especially in terms of whether or not they believe they are serving a higher public good, become an important aspect of consideration.

This study examines levels of public service motivation specifically in contractors and federal grant employees who work within the homeland security sector to determine if perhaps, due to the nature of homeland security, public service motivation is as highly demonstrated in this group of people in comparison to their public sector counterparts. If public service motivation is one of the key differences that separates those who work in the public service and those who choose to work in the private sector (Perry 1996), it would seem the implications of high levels of PSM demonstrated in homeland security contractors would be an important aspect to recognize, especially in light of the growing concerns over transparency and accountability. This thesis seeks to illustrate not only that public service motivation does exist in contractors and grant employees who choose to work in the homeland security realm, but also that they exhibit similar levels of public service motivation to traditional public servants employed in the same field.


© 2010, Alexa Haddock Bigwarfe